Ring of Honor presented its final two shows before ‘Final Battle 2011’ in a wrestling hotspot – the Carolinas. Both North and South Carolina saw some ROH action on the 3rd and 4th of December. On the 3rd, ROH visited Spartanburg with an interesting card including a 20-man ‘Honor Rumble’, The House of Truth entering the Proving Ground and much more. The next night, ROH rolled into Greensboro with ‘Northern Aggression’. The highlight of this one was undoubtedly the eight-man tag team elimination match which had a two-hour time limit. So, with two events in this special pack, will ‘Battle In The Carolinas’ deliver? Read on and find out:
Southern Defiance (12/3/2011)
To kick off the show, we have Mike Bennett taking on Adam Cole. What Bennett might lack in wrestling ability (he’s much, much better than people give him credit for though) he more than makes up for with his character. This was an awesome opening contest, full of action. Cole has the potential to be a great singles guy down the road and the fans were completely into him during this one. Bennett works well against a strong face and Cole almost won with a bridging German suplex (he has one of the best I’ve seen) before Bennett got the win with the Box Office Smash. This showed Cole in a great way so it definitely served its purpose.
Next up is the Bravado Brothers, who said they are on notice in ROH and need to start winning, against Los Ben Dejos (Cruz & Rios). This was a largely forgettable contest where Los Ben Dejos actually looked like the better team. The Bravados got the win after a bridge from Lance with help from Harlem – do they really need cheap wins against teams that are making their debut?
TJ Perkins now enters the Proving Ground against ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal. You may remember this match from the ROH TV show as it aired during the ‘Road Rage’ episodes just after New Year. TJP, as always, put on a great showing and these two really gelled in the ring due to their similar styles. I’d love to see a rematch between these two as they just went at it for around 10 minutes and it was really enjoyable. Lethal got the win after blocking the Detonation Kick and hitting the Lethal Injection for the three.
Following on from that, we have tag team action as The Young Bucks take on The All Night Express. This one had a lot of potential and although it was good, it maybe wasn’t as good as it could have been. The Bucks went straight after Titus’ knee so I guess that made sense with him needing surgery which he has now had. They built up to the hot tag a lot and King looked good in his brief time in the ring. I hope we see more of these two when Titus returns as they work well together – a good taster of things to come. The Bucks won with the More Bang For Your Buck.
Another tag team contest now with The Briscoes going up against Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman. This had a simple story of C&C just trying to gain respect from the Briscoes after the refused to call them by their proper names. The Briscoes were especially aggressive in this one but C&C took a lot of it and came back. This match did a great job of putting over C&C as they try and establish themselves on the roster. They’re a good team and pull off some great high-flying moves. The Briscoes managed to pick up the win with the Doomsday Device on Cedric after Caprice was sent to the floor by Mark Briscoe. Good match that did exactly what it had to do.
Up next is another Proving Ground contest pitting Michael Elgin & Roderick Strong against Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. This one was also shown on ROH TV but it was good to watch it again as I remembered it being an enjoyable bout. I wasn’t disappointed as it turned out to be as good as I though. Shelton still had the taped ribs so Elgin and especially Strong, went after that like a bullseye. Shelton took a lot of pain and they really built up to the hot tag to Haas. There was tons of good sequences in this one which kept it flowing really well. Elgin and Strong worked really well together; Strong was getting Elgin to do most of the work and then picking up the pieces. It was WGTT who picked up the win though – with Elgin going for a moonsault off the top, Shelton managed to hit an awesome jumping German suplex which allowed Haas to get the pin.
A first-time match continues the action and it’s quite a surprising one. Eddie Edwards goes one-on-one with El Generico. They’ve battled numerous times in tag team bouts but this is the first ever singles contest between the two. As expected, this was a really great match. Both men gave it their all and they were managing to keep up with each other and neither man could really get an advantage. They matched up really well against each other and I’d love to see a rematch somewhere down the line. After an awesome suplex to the outside by Edwards, the end of the match came when ‘Die Hard’ locked Generico in the Achilles Lock. ‘The Generic Luchador’ was refusing to tap out until Edwards dragged him into the centre and Generico gave up. The crowd absolutely loved it and it was a highly-enjoyable and highly-competitive match.
Last up was the intriguing 20-man ‘Honor Rumble’. The winner wins an ROH World Title shot for sometime in the future. This was fun without being overly great. There was too much trying to throw people out (I know that might sound ridiculous seeing as it was a rumble match) and not enough actual wrestling which dragged it down but it was still easy to watch. Stand-out performers were Jay Briscoe who eliminated seven men and Michael Elgin who dominated whilst he was still in the ring and got rid of opponents. The last five men left were Elgin, El Generico, Jay Lethal, Mike Bennett and Roderick Strong. Bennett was eliminated by Strong before the number 20 entrant then threw out both Elgin and Generico to leave him and Lethal. After both men tried to throw each other out, they were left on the ring apron where Lethal got the upper hand and hit a superkick which caused Roddy to fall to the floor. As I said, this wasn’t a classic and the crowd seemed dead for it but it was something a bit different from ROH and I’d like to see this become a yearly thing.
Northern Aggression (12/4/2011)
Mike Bennett kicks off things for the second night in a row as he takes on TJ Perkins. Both of these guys have a great skill of making their opponents look great and that made for enjoyable opening contest. Bennett does the little things well and TJP showed some encouraging signs yet again – I think he just needs to be given a bit longer in matches to really show what he can do. This was a perfectly acceptable opener that Bennett won – he blocked a sunset flip attempt, fell on Perkins and then used the ropes to grab a cheap win.
Up next, a tag team contest between The All Night Express and The Bravados. Before the match can start, the Young Bucks attack ANX from behind. Nick then uses a steel chair on the left knee of Titus which was injured in last night’s match. Kenny King agrees to take on the Bravados on his own as Titus goes to the back. King tried but failed to get a grip on the match as the Bravados used the numbers game to their advantage. Out of nowhere, Titus struggled to the ring and managed to take out both Bravados while on one leg. With Harlem out of the ring, ANX hit the Blockbuster on Lancelot for the win. The match itself was nothing special but it has planted the seeds of an ANX/Bucks feud and put over ANX as a tough team.
For the second night in a row, Jay Lethal welcomes a visitor to the Proving Ground – Adam Cole. If anybody has any doubts over Cole as a singles wrestler then they need to watch this one. This was a terrific match and the crowd were really into it. They went toe-to-toe for most of the match and it made Cole look great and he looked more than comfortable against a great guy like Lethal. They really built up the suspense with some near falls at the end too – just a great, great match.
The Young Bucks were up next as they took on Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander. C&C are still trying to solidify themselves on the roster and have had some really good matches lately. Fortunately, this one continued that trend. The Bucks controlled a lot of the match which allowed C&C to come in with quick attacks and they hit some pretty innovative moves. They seem to be getting better as a team and this was a very enjoyable match. C&C finally look like equals and looked great in this one despite the Bucks picking up the win with the double team Tombstone Piledriver.
Before the eight-man tag match, there was a quick filler match between Andy ‘Right Leg’ Ridge and Samson. I understand why they put this before the main event; they wanted something low-key to lead into the epic match at the end. This was very average though, Samson was making his debut and didn’t show much – he was too busy telling the crowd to shut up. Ridge was shown as a fighter against his much larger opponent. Ridge seemed to break his nose too at one point and got the win after rolling through a powerbomb attempt.
The main event of ‘Northern Aggression’ was the historic eight-man tag team elimination match between El Generico, Eddie Edwards & Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team against Michael Elgin, Roderick Strong & The Briscoes. You may have seen most of this match from the ‘Road Rage’ TV shows that ROH aired just after New Year. They did a great job in the editing of that one but even in its entirety (a whole 80 minutes) it’s still a fantastic match to watch. It’s the longest match ever in ROH and the fact that it was an elimination tag match really refrained it from becoming boring or slow. They changed things up and quickened the pace at times which is what was needed and they all did a great job of keeping the fans invested in what they were doing. The Briscoes and WGTT eliminated each other just after the 40 minute mark. Generico and then Elgin were the next to go, leaving Edwards and Strong. The two went at it for another five minutes or so and the fans were still completely into the action which shows how good the match was. Edwards eventually got the win with the Dragon Sleeper as he celebrated with his team.
Overall Thoughts: When I first heard that they were going to put these two events in one pack, I was delighted. I suppose they felt that they had to after giving away a few of the matches on TV. Despite that, this is absolutely great value. There is almost six hours of great wrestling and there are some really good matches. From ‘Southern Defiance’, Eddie Edwards vs. El Generico is awesome and the ‘Honor Rumble’ is a fun watch. At ‘Northern Aggression’ you have the record-setting main event as well as a terrific encounter between Jay Lethal and Adam Cole – there really is something for everybody in this set. I was also pleasantly surprised by the production – it was much better than it has been recently. Graphics were shown before each match and a lot of interviews were also shown which added to the match and gave us some background info. This was, as far as I could tell, also in Widescreen format at last and they had a great new menu too. I’m not sure if this was just because the TV cameras where in the Carolinas to tape for the TV show but I’d love to see this continue on the DVDs. Jim Cornette was great on commentary alongside Kevin Kelly and there’s not much else to say apart from that you MUST get this DVD – you’d be crazy not to!
Overall Score: 9.5/10
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